How Businesses Innovate Through Accessibility

How Businesses Innovate Through AccessibilityInnovation can come from just about anywhere; however, it can also come in just about any size. Sometimes, the biggest innovations come in the smallest packages.

Just ask Muhammad Yunus. In 2006, Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work developing microloans in Bangladesh. The concept was simple; provide small loans to those too poor to be looked at by other banks, yet who would also benefit the most from such loans. Whereas most banks assumed the poor would default on their loans, Yunus had faith in his loanees. His faith resulted in a repayment rate of over 95%, as Yunus’ Grameen Bank went on to loan over $6 billion to 7 million lenders by 2007 and eventually inspired similar banks in over 100 developing countries.

While your company may not be slated for a Nobel Prize, consider how your small business may innovate from within and benefit from the principles of Yunus’ work.

We live in extraordinary economic times. Information is so readily available while cash simply is not. As so many Americans are only scraping by, your business may very well benefit its buyers through revamping the way you look at price and accessibility.

Innovation Through Pricing

Price is a barrier, no matter what you’re selling and who’s buying. Regardless of how much you spend, there always seems to be pricier options. From computers to cars, there are endless examples of the “higher end” and “lower end” models on the market. It’s the cheaper option, the so-called “lower end,” and the quality of such options, which are often the default option in today’s economy. Unfortunately, such options are often less than desirable for the consumers. Lower quality care and parts result in a lower quality product. Does it have to be this way?

Not necessarily. Less expensive doesn’t have to be synonymous with “cheap,” “unusable” or “unreliable.” When you can create a less expensive product that legitimately meets the needs and expectations of your users, you’ve created something worthwhile.

Consider the recent release of the iPhone 5C. Apple has been known for its cult-like following and emphasis on exclusivity, often associated with higher end products and buyers. The 5C represents Apple’s attempt to reach out to a new audience, perhaps those previously too thrifty to join the club. While creating an iPhone at a lower price point doesn’t seem like much of an innovation, it’s a huge step for a company that thrives on exclusivity. The release of the iPhone 5C (along with the 5S) topped over 9 million over the course of a single weekend, setting a new record for Apple and proving that accessibility can result in sales.

Exclusivity is a great marketing tool; however, you tend to miss out on a lot of potential business when you put up such barriers in the form of price. Ponder how your business distributes its lower priced items and what they mean to your audience.

Accessibility and Freedom

Price is just one barrier put up by businesses; however, it’s a big one. Consider breaking it down further by offering something free and of value to your existing and potential customers. By doing so, you not only give users a taste of your business, but also show that you’re willing to meet them halfway.

Look at your desktop. Your phone. The software that makes it tick. The tools and technologies that get you through your day-to-day life. Much of the software we rely on, such as that provided by Google, is absolutely free. While Google has pioneered the web through its free tools and resources, they’ve also established the biggest tech giant in existence. Through their ease of access and reliability, they’ve ultimately come out on top. While you may not be on the same level as Google, there’s something to be learned from their principles.

The Bottom Line

For the sake of your potential and existing customers, make your small business more accessible. Whether your accessibility comes through price or freedom, understand that today’s buyers are constantly in need of assurance and assistance. That assurance comes in the form of a quality product and the assistance comes by offering it at a fair price. By making yourself more accessible, you work to open new doors rather than build barriers to keep new buyers out.

image credit: bigstockphoto.com

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Your hosts, Braden Kelley, Julie Anixter and Rowan Gibson, are innovation writers, speakers and strategic advisors to many of the world’s leading companies.

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